Get Gory and Gay with your Fave Queer Horror Characters
Horror films aren’t exactly known for their striking portrayal of minorities and queer characters are no exception. Gearing up for Halloween Geeks Guide to the Galaxy, a Wired sponsored podcast did some digging into queer themes in horror.
There’s no denying the genre is riddled with misrepresentations. Queer characters are often pinned as token figures- standing in for an entire community in his or her victimization by the killer. Other times, the queer figure is the killer and the homoerotic subtext is less direct. Even when no queer notions seem to be at play, a cheerleader-jock slashing killer serves as a mentally redemptive fuck you to heterosexuality. Looking deeper into the horror genre got us thinking non-straight about our favorite queer figures in film. Here’s our pick of the the most outlandish, entertaining, gay beyond gay, and unquestionably queer horror films.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Other than capitalizing on the fact that men’s legs look surprisingly better in fishnets than women’s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is without a doubt the queerest “horror” film. It didn’t just step out of the closet; it kicked down the door with a stiletto-heeled foot and slapped the film world with manicured man hands. Dr. Frank N. Furter, besides being an ax-swinging killer, is a pan-sexual, queer, cross-dressing, what have you, seductive sex-positive figure. Beyond the character of Dr. Frank N. Furter, the film is overwhelmingly devoted to the sheer possibilities of sexual pleasure – drag queens, pool orgies, aliens from Planet Transsexual and more. It honestly doesn’t get queerer than a trans planet.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Part 2
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Part 2 has literally been called “the gayest horror movie ever made.” Exhibit A: murderer Freddie Kruger takes murderous vengeance on his victims through the body of main character Jesse Walsh, who at one point says “he’s inside me.” Exhibit B: Jesse opts for a bro sleepover with his hunky best friend rather than getting down to business with girlfriend. Not convinced yet?
Later, Jesse does a super gay dance, bumping and grinding against his dresser while trying out outrageously 80’s-styled sunglasses. Then, his best friend accidentally pulls his pants down during gym class, which, by the way, is taught by an S&M enthusiast and frequent visitor of a decked-out leather bar. Queer cherry on top – the towel whipping scene. I’m pretty sure a whip to the cheeks in the boys locker room between two men lacks a single ounce of heterosexual subtext. Totally traditional in film, just your average straight teen, and totally not gay.
Queen of the Damned
The goth-rock satire based on a series of Anne Rice novels surrounds the figure of Lestat (famously played by the sexually ambiguous Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire) who is without a doubt gay. Lestat awakens from a grave in New Orleans to the electric strumming of a guitar to resurrect his rock career (cheesy pun intended). Once up, he hits some gay bars and has a passionate love affair with a young researcher in London. The supporting character, Marius, is also definitely gay, and we’re not entirely sure the famed Queen bad mama-jama of the vampires is the only queen around.
There are an endless number of Frankenstein remakes, and all are awesome, weird, and corny in their own spectacular way. My personal favorite is Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein. But every remake, parody or thriller, is an appropriation of the same text which is laden with homoerotic ideas. Mary Shelley, who wrote the novel in a pre-Victorian era, can’t truly be attributed with having a dirty mind. But we can and we do, and so do many queer theorists.
Main man Doctor Frankenstein – exploring his more taboo desires – creates a creature of a corpse and is simply thrilled by the construction of the male form. He makes a nine foot man from scratch choosing only the best male anatomy from the local graveyard. The creepy experiment strays from social expectations, and taken in a queer lens, so do his unspoken desires for man. The drive to possess the male body drives Frankenstein to his creation, and the text itself has plenty of pre-orgasmic language leading up to the resurrection of the creature. It may not be as explicit as a cross-dressing character, but under the veil of gothic horror, the subtext is teeming with gayness.
Dracula, like Frankenstein, has been subject to a million and one horrible and great remakes. It’s also super gay too. In one scene, when main character Harker is visiting Count Dracula, he is cornered by the Count’s brides. Just as they’re about to swarm in on Harker, Dracula swoops in on the scene and calls dibs, taking Harker away for his own whims and follies. Even Saturday Night Live spoofed Dracula’s gayness in a skit with John Travolta (we don’t even want to touch the subtext there) back in the 90’s – we got the transcript for proof.
For more on the matter, check out the podcast on Wired.
Everybody have a safe Halloweekend! Stay tuned to Milk for queer investigations.